One of my favorite speech therapy group activities is the flower shop pretend play activity for preschoolers. It’s perfect to play at home too! I like to use this activity to target both dramatic play as well as describing words/adjectives. Keep scrolling for a free visual that kids can use as a as a “menu” to order flowers using describing words.
What is dramatic play for toddlers and preschoolers?
Dramatic play (also referred to as pretend play or imaginative play) is when a child takes on a role and acts it out. It is common for older toddlers and preschoolers to act out roles they see around them such as pretending to be a mommy/daddy to a baby doll or pretending to cook. Many children on the autism spectrum don’t naturally engage in pretend play, so it can be explicitly taught.
Some other examples of dramatic play include playing doctor, grocery store, restaurant – or for this example flower shop!
Benefits of Imaginative Play in Early Years
- Imitation – Your child builds imitation skills by observing the details of what others around him are doing and him pretending to do the same.
- Flexible Thinking – Play items look a lot like the real thing, but it takes some flexible thinking to accept and imagine that those items work like the real thing.
- Imagination – Often children find materials around the house that remind them of real items to use for pretend play. Plus, they have to imagine what the person in that role would do and say.
- Verbal Skills: Your child will learn and use vocabulary outside of his everyday words (e.g. stethoscope). Plus, he will form sentences in the form of directives, questions, and comments throughout the activity. Even when children play alone during imaginative play, they often will engage in strings of speech and story telling. (It’s pretty fun to watch!)
- Cooperative/Social Play: Though dramatic play can occur as independent play, your child may also play with you and other children. It takes negotiation and communication to get everyone on the same page!
Using a Visual to Encourage Adjective Learning
I like to use this visual to help teach describing words and adjectives related to flowers such as colors, long/short, big/little, and health/wilted. This visual is perfect for preschoolers or special needs students. I loved this activity in speech groups from PK through the elementary level when I worked with children on the autism spectrum. This activity can be paired with scripts or picture steps as well to help teach pretend play.
You can get a copy of the visual we used by entering your email below:
Flower Shop Dramatic Play
Collect Flowers for Your Flower Shop
You have some options here:
- Cut flowers from your own yard with your child. I love this idea since you can preview the describing words as you find and cut flowers. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any flowers in bloom this week in our yard.
- Buy an inexpensive bouquet. I love Trader Joes and Aldi for good prices on flowers. Look for one with a variety of flowers. I actually used the flowers I recieved for Mother’s Day! Unfortunately the Hydrangeas didn’t make it long enough to be a part of the activity.
- Use fake flowers. This is what I did in the classroom (with the help of the classroom teacher) so that the activity could be used repeatedly. I would introduce the activity during a speech group as a push-in to the classroom and then it would become one of the centers for the rest of the month! I loved being able to have that carry-over with the students and staff.
Set Up Your Shop
Get your hands on some plastic vases or cups to set up your flowers. I just used a plastic pitcher for my tall flowers.
If you want to make and color a “Flower Shop” sign to hang up, that could be a great activity to get your child excited about the activity!
Preview Adjectives with Visual
If you didn’t already preview the flower describing words as you collected the flowers, make sure you do that before you start the pretend play part of the activity.
I usually will have a child touch the picture of the word such as “long” and then show them a long flower or pass it around if I am in a speech group. Then proceed through each word on the list.
Your Child/Student Pretends to be a Customer
I like to have the child make the first “order” so that I can model how to look for the attributes they selected.
I’ll often model my thinking aloud as well. So if the child asks for a long and pink flower. I might say, “Hmmm, this one is pink and so is this one. . . but I need a long and pink flower. . . here you go!”
If I am doing this in a small speech group, I might have every student take a turn or just a couple of the students before I introduce the store keeper role.
Trade Roles: Your Child Pretends to be the Store Keeper
This is the more challenging role, so help guide your child as much as needed. You might want to start off just using one describing word before you move on to using two or three.
Make Your “Orders” into Bouquets
Use some tissue paper to wrap the flowers selected into a bouquet and tie with a piece of ribbon. Then your child can give the bouquet to someone special! This is especially cute if you are doing this activity at school around a holiday (like Mother’s Day)!
Extension: Show and Tell
When I did this activity in speech groups, I sometimes would work on the same concepts on a different day by setting up a Flower Show and Tell. You can give each student a flower and have him circle the adjectives that describe his flower. Then using the visual as a guide, each student can stand in front of the group and “show and tell” about their flower!
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